Management Options for Biodiverse Farming

Project Status: Completed
Type of Project: Research Project

Principal Investigator: Prof William Sutherland, University of Cambridge (Email)

Publications, Data and Other Outputs
Policy and Practice Note


The aim of this project is to bring together social and natural scientists to understand the social, economic and political factors underlying farming practice, and the implications of changing these decisions for biodiversity.

We will use economic models to determine what actions by farmers are financially optimal. Using interviews with farmers, we will determine why they deviate from these model predications, and why farmers vary in the way they manage farms. The variation in management between farms is known to be an important determinant of biodiversity and one of our key objectives is to understand the basis for this.

We will use ecological models to predict how weed and bird populations (i.e. key biodiversity indicators) will respond to changes in management practices. To develop these models we will use long-term data available from the British Trust for Ornithology, together with detailed farm surveys.

These models will be used to answer a range of policy questions such as: What would be the best policy measures to achieve the targets on bird populations set by the government? What determines which new farming methods and agri-environment schemes will be adopted by farmers? What will be the social and economic consequences of biodiversity conservation?